WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington Board of Selectmen candidates Ed Loud, Kevin MacDonald, and Mike McCoy (incumbent) participated in a spirited debate on Tuesday night. The three men are competing for two seats up for grabs during the April 22 Town Election.
“I’m not running AGAINST anyone. I’m running FOR the people of Wilmington,” said candidate Ed Loud, a resident for nearly 30 years. “I love this town. I love working. I love helping people.”
“I’m running for office to do the right thing for the people of Wilmington,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “I’m not a politician. I’m not put in place for the advancement of special interest. I refuse to accept over-budgeting for the purpose of creating a mechanism to overtax people… Lying, cheating and stealing from hardworking Wilmington families cannot continue to be tolerated.”
“If you re-elect me, I will continue to fight to give the residents the good services they’ve come to expect, with no 2-1/2 override or user fees,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. McCoy also touted the fact that he is a lifelong resident, WHS graduate, former longtime business owner of Michael’s Place restaurant, and a 30-year town official, including 27 years as a Selectman.
New England Transrail (How will you fight the proposal?)
“This proposal is an affront to the values and the justice system of this country,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “I’ve declared this site should be declared a crime scene. It is my understanding that contamination was intentionally dumped into lagoons, which then made its way down into the aquifer… NDMA, a cancer causing compound, migrated into our well fields and caused five of the wells in the area to be shut down…. I’m also concerned the NDMA is now migrating to downstream communities.”
“The bottom line is I’ve been against this proposal since Day 1,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “If you re-elect me, this is dear to my heart and I’ll continue to fight against this.” McCoy, who has met with several families who live near the Olin site, pointed out that he was the only Selectman to speak out against the project at the federal Surface Transportation Board’s public hearing in Wilmington back in the fall. “We can’t trust Olin… I’m with the residents.”
“I’m 100% against anything going [on the Olin site] until the site is 100% cleaned up,” said candidate Ed Loud. “We don’t need 180 additional trucks in Wilmington. The project will be very dangerous to the neighbors in the area… I really hope the federal government listens to our legislators and the people of Wilmington and votes against this.”
Facility Master Plan (What should happen at the Swain site?)
“The jury is still out,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “Some residents are concerned about taxation. I understand we need to address those issues. We really need to take a hard look at the options before we made any decisions.”
“I don’t think I’m in favor of anything going anywhere right now because of the taxpayers were pay in town,” said candidate Ed Loud, who noted he looks forward to learning more about the Facility Master Plan.
“I’m opposed to anything going over at the Swain site. I think having a Farmers Market there and having a place for people to go on the Fourth of July is fine just the way it is,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. MacDonald also expressed concern that he feels the town is being overcharged for building projects and must do a better job in the bidding process.
Free Cash (Does town have too much free cash?)
“$18 million sounds like a lot of money, but [the Town Manager’s] proposed budget is going to spend around $5 million of that,” said candidate Ed Loud. “Standard & Poor’s recommends to have 15% of your operating budget in reserves, so – if the town approves the $5 million in spending at Town Meeting, we’ll be right around that 15%.”
“The Town is arriving at the free cash by over-budgeting and deceiving people… They’re really stealing money from the taxpayers to build up these big bank balances,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “It’s unacceptable to me that elderly people and people on fixed incomes are being ruthlessly oppressed in taxes… There’s been nothing done to address the tremendous elderly housing needs.”
“Not at all. I hope we can go to $20-$22 million free cash… You need to save that money for a rainy day account, just like the state does and just like in your own pocketbook,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “Everything is cyclical. When we had the economy turn in 2007-2008, the town kept everyone working and gave out no pink slips [by utilizing the free cash reserves]. We were able to keep the vital services residents have become accustom to.”
Tone Of Campaign (What measures will you take to ensure the board works in harmony and can agree without being disagreeable?)
“In order for people to work in harmony, they have to have a common goal, common purpose, and a heart in the right place doing what’s right for the people of Wilmington, not the special interests,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “I’m not going to go along to get along… I’m not interested in seeing the people of Wilmington oppressed in taxes…. I’m not going to be there to play kiss-up to anybody.”
“I’m a ‘checks and balances’ person in this community. I’m never afraid to take a stand. I’m not afraid to meet with people,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “I’ve always won the support of residents and done fantastic at the ballot box… I’ll never give in and will always do what I think is best for the community. I’ll work with anybody as long as they have the best interest of the community.”
“This election is not about Ed Loud, it’s about the people of Wilmington,” said candidate Ed Loud. “I can work with anyone. I always have and I always will.”
New Boston St. Bridge (What will be the negative & positive effects of the reconstruction of the bridge in Woburn be on Wilmington?)
“I made a motion at the February 13 Selectmen meeting to oppose the opening of the bridge and couldn’t even get a second,” said Selectman Mike McCoy, who accused the city of Woburn of going behind Wilmington’s back as the project reached it’s “25% stage.” McCoy is also gravely concerned that the opening of the bridge would have a determinental effect on the town’s fight against the New England Transrail proposal.
“I would only approve of the bridge if the residents in the area wanted it, if a comprehensive traffic study is completed, and a very enforceable truck exclusion on Woburn Street, heading towards Lowell Street, at the Eames Street intersection,” said candidate Ed Loud.
“I’ve never voted or supported the opening of the bridge,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “We have major traffic problems in Wilmington. We don’t need Woburn dumping all of their traffic into Wilmington.” MacDonald would only support the bridge if it is was a 1-way bridge away from Wilmington, and would negotiate this change with the city of Woburn by cleaning up the Olin site, thus keeping nearby Woburn residents safe.
School Budget Oversight
“I would like to see a member of the Board of Selectmen on any negotiation teams for high level school department employees to protect the town,” said candidate Ed Loud. “In the future, the Selectmen and the School Committee need to work closer.” In a follow-up question, Loud said the Board of Selectmen should have the power to override the decisions of the School Committee.
“To hire a school superintendent and pay her the salary of a veteran superintendent when she has never, ever been a superintendent is where the problem started,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “I’d be in favor of changing the Town Charter so that when the School Committee enters into a separation agreement, the Board of Selectmen must be a part of that, providing oversight with a veto power…” MacDonald also prefers just 1-year contracts for positions like Superintendent to avoid similar “disasters.” In a follow-up question, MacDonald said Selectmen should have oversight and some authority over the School Department’s finances.
“Even before she got caught with the drunk driving, even before she brought back that gym teacher, this woman should have been fired a long time ago. We lost good department heads. We lost good teachers. This woman was nothing more than a bully,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “We’re on the hook for the $125,000. And, for the rest of her life, we’re going to have to pay for part of her pension and medical. [The School Committee] should be ashamed of themselves for giving out that sweetheart deal.” In a follow-up question, McCoy said the Selectmen and School Committee need to work closer together and the School Committee needs to be more transparent.
Traffic (How Will You Address Traffic & Driver Safety Issues In Town?)
“We need to fix the potholes in town so residents are playing ‘dodge ’em’ when they’re traveling on just about every road,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “It’s ridiculous the roads are in the condition that they’re in.”
“We have 4 exits and entrances off of I-93. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “The bottom line is, we’re going to get traffic… We really need to do a better job to work with the state to come up with a plan. We’re doing the best we can.” McCoy singled out the traffic signalization project at Glen Road, which – while he supported the round-about option – does acknowledge the traffic lights have improved driver safety.
“Traffic is everywhere and we can’t really control it, but we have a great police deparmtment, fire responders, and DPW that’s keeping the roads as safe as we can,” said candidate Ed Loud. Loud looks forward to reviewing the town’s ongoing study on its 130 intersections once it’s published.
Economic Development (What should the town be doing to attract new businesses to the community?)
“I’m in favor of giving any tax breaks to any businesses provided that they create jobs, and I want to see some of those jobs come to Wilmington residents,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. McCoy noted that the Town of Wilmington and Selectmen were able to entice Analog Devices to expand in Wilmington, rather than move a part of the company overseas.
“It’s pretty difficult to attract new businesses when the taxes are as high as they are,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. “We need to lower the taxes. Wilmington is a great community to do business in, but we have an over-taxation problem.” MacDonald is also concerned about existing businesses leaving for more affordable communities.
“We need to lower taxes to attract very good businesses in town,” said candidate Ed Loud. “With more businesses in town, it lowers the residential tax burden.” Loud pointed on the residential tax rate in Wilmington is one of the lowest amongst its neighbors.
In a lightning round, candidates briefly discussed marijuana laws, the Yentile Farm Recreational Facility, and Red Sox predictions.
“I’m a tolerant, civil-minded, honest and – above all – principled person…,” said candidate Ed Loud. “I love this town. I will work hard for this town. I will work with anyone on the board to make this town great.”
“Oversight by the current Board of Selectmen has been very weak. I believe the voters need to elect me so proper oversight is initiated,” said candidate Kevin MacDonald. MacDonald is especially concerned about the financial well-being of many seniors and veterans in town. “I’m not going to be under Mr. Hull. Mr. Hull is going to understand that the Board of Selectmen is over him. We need him to do the right thing for the town of Wilmington.”
“I don’t seek the endorsements from the who’s who of Wilmington politics, leaving me free to cast votes with my own conscious. My voting record speaks for itself. I’ve never taken a campaign donation, a penny, from anybody. I’ve self-supported all my campaigns,” said Selectman Mike McCoy. “The only endorsement that matters to me is the Wilmington voters.”
McCoy then pointed out that all four his current colleagues have signed candidate Ed Loud’s nomination papers. “It’s there God given right to do so, but do you get the picture?” McCoy then cited a 2016 Town Crier article where Loud said he was supporting Caira and Bendel for Selectmen, who were also being supported by outgoing Selectmen Mike Newhouse and Lou Cimaglia. McCoy then claimed that O’Connell delayed her announcement not to seek re-election to help Loud’s campaigns chances — a charge O’Connell vehemently denies. McCoy also claimed that Mike Newhouse was serving as Loud’s campaign manager, which Loud flatly denied.
Loud, however, was not provided time to respond to the allegations made in McCoy’s closing statements because of time constraints and the debate’s established rules.
The debate was moderated by Town Moderator Rob Peterson Jr. Panelists included Tom Zuppa of the Lowell Sun and Krista Bresnahan of the Wilmington Town Crier. Wilmington Apple served as the debate’s ‘web partner’ and provide a few questions as well.
Candidates Night was sponsored by the Wilmington-Tewksbury Chamber of Commerce, Reading Cooperative Bank, WCTV, and the Wilmington Town Crier.
Watch the full debate, courtesy of Wilmington Community Television, below:
Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.